Yesterday (22 July), there was a public forum in Ellenbrook to discuss the future of the "Gnangara Mound", an underground body of water north of the Swan River. More than half of Perth's scheme water is pumped out of this aquifer, and this is where our bore water comes from as well. The aquifer is recharged by rainwater and stormwater soaking down into the ground. Perth's rainfall has been diminishing over the last couple of decades, and there are more people and industries using water, so water levels in the Gnangara Mound are decreasing.
This will affect how much water we will have for drinking and other uses in our homes. It will affect what kinds of fruit and vegetables we might be able to buy locally. It will affect industries, horticulture, maintenance of parks and playing fields, and the appearance of our suburb.
More demand for water, less water available = problems.
What does this mean for bushland? Many areas of banksia woodland are suffering because tree roots cannot reach water in summer, so trees are dying off. Some wetlands are suffering also because they no longer have enough water; paperbark wetlands are drying up when they should be under half a metre of water in winter. Ultimately, it means that our bushland will change to drier vegetation. This will in turn affect the many animals that depend on plants such as Banksia and Melaleuca, including Carnaby's Black-Cockatoo and Honey Possums.
I and a couple of fellow members of the Ellenbrook Bushland Group attended the public forum to share our ideas about the management of this store of water.
You can have your say too. You will need to download and read the Gnangara Sustainability Strategy. Then you can fill out the accompanying public submission form, and email or post it to the address given on the form. The closing date for submissions is 5pm Monday 31 August 2009. All the public comments will be collected and analysed, and the results will be available later this year.
If you live in Ellenbrook, or anywhere in Perth for that matter, and are concerned about the future of our drinking water, you should take part in this public comment process. Maybe you have a brilliant idea that will help solve the Gnangara Mound problems?